Canowindra High School have officially farewelled one of their most extraordinary teachers recently after the retirement of Mr Owen McLaughlin, a teacher of Agricultural Studies. Owen first arrived at Canowindra High School in 1979 on his first official school appointment. “I wasn’t going to be a teacher but I got a four year scholarship and I was having a good time so I did my prac at Wagga Wagga and Yanco High Schools,” Owen reminisces.
“I wasn’t convinced though, and I planned to only do one year to get my teaching certificate and then travel for a while before becoming an agronomist or getting work for the Department of Agriculture.” But that never eventuated; fate had other plans. “I did my first year and I fell in love with the small school,” says Owen, “it was only about 200 students then. I started playing
rugby and squash and thought it was a great town and a great community.”
Owen says the rest is history and 36 years later, he is still here and occasionally still teaching. He has remained at Canowindra High School his entire teaching career which Owen says is “rare for a teacher”. “I owe the town a lot because that’s where I met my wife Donna,” Owen said. “I’ve had three kids who all went through the Canowindra schools and I taught them all Ag Studies.” “I was mentored by Jack Sherwin who was a PE teacher loved by the community. He took me under his wing and taught me to be the most enthusiastic person in the class, to set high standards for students and to always try and reinvent myself every 5 years to stay motivated and refreshed.”
“I’ve always tried to be innovative and on top of my game. I didn’t want to fizzle out so I left on a high note.” During his time at Canowindra High School, Owen had the pleasure of being involved in a variety of agricultural, community and school based projects and positions. This includes a tree planting scheme which won a state environmental award, a patronage for the sporting house Gilbert for over 25 years where he inspired kids with poetry,
the rewarding position of Year Advisor for three groups, working as a HSC marker for many years and organising week-long Rotary Camps for students.
Owen was also one of three teachers who helped write the Year 11 and 12 Agricultural syllabus in 2011, worked as a relief teacher, was very involved with the Archibull Prize, initiated a university link for students in the Fond Memories For High School Teacher region which was the first of its kind and
watched on as many students went from strength to strength towards actualising their personal goals and dreams.
In a speech at his Retirement Diner, Owen thanked all the people who had helped make his career so memorable and enjoyable, including the parents and farmers who’ve donated things over the years, the families who gave access to land and livestock for student education, the ladies in the office and the cleaners at the school. While Owen will still be teaching on a casual basis, he will now be able to spend more time at his hobby farm in Moorbel.